Mozzarella may seem like the epitome of soft cheeses, but as I’ve mentioned previously, it was the first cheese I learned to make. I have to thank the Cheese Queen, Ricki Carroll, for this: her books, kits, and company are the reason most people, including me and my young niece, started making cheese at home. Most of the recipes you’ll find today for quick mozzarella are nearly identical to her original kit instructions, including mine. But after years of making mozzarella at home, I’ve learned enough techniques and tips that I’m posting my own version, along with a recipe that will use the first harvest from your garden.
Learn to make Quick Homemade Mozzarella and Spring Pasta and Fresh Mozzarella Salad
Every April, I’m focused on two things: what I’m going to grow in my garden this year, and how I’m going to eat up everything I saved from last year’s harvest. Last week’s post used up not just the whey leftover from making yogurt but also the potatoes starting to sprout in my storage bins. This week, I dug deeply into my freezer and found all sorts of vegetables for an Indian dinner: cherry tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and cilantro pesto. Flavor them with my dwindling supply of home-smoked chilies and homemade curry powder, toss in some freshly made paneer, and the flavors explode.
There are several other fabulous things about this week’s recipes. If you already make Lemon Cheese, you don’t need to learn to make paneer: you just need to learn how to press your cheese. If you don’t yet make this cheese, which also goes by queso blanco, whole-milk ricotta, and farm cheese, you have another reason to learn how.
Learn to make Fresh Paneer and Paneer Tikka Masala
When you regularly make cheese and other dairy products at home, you’ll be impressed by two things: the amazing creations you can make from a few ingredients and the amount of whey you generate. When you turn milk into cheese or yogurt, you separate the solids, or curds, by cooking and draining off the liquid, or whey. Commercial manufacturers of Greek yogurt generate so much whey it’s created environmental problems. If you make your own cheese and yogurt, you likely want to be at least as conscientious as the big brands. Corporations are testing large-scale solutions, but at home you have many small, easy, and tasty alternatives to pouring that whey down the drain.
Read more about using whey
I’m still getting lots of questions about last month’s posts on fermenting vegetables at home. If you’re afraid to ferment your own produce, it’s likely because the technique is unfamiliar. I understand the hesitation: Fermentation involves so few ingredients and tools but so much time that you worry about messing it up.
Fortunately, fermenting has a long history, and it’s modern popularity is on the rise. This translates to lots of fabulous resources to help you become comfortable with fermenting fruits and vegetables. Here are some of my favorite sources for fermentation recipes and advice.
Read more about home fermentation